20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 2 of 2)

20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 2 of 2)

When : 6th September 2015
Who : Me, my son and some of The Coventry CHA A+ walkers
Where : Peak District National Park – Youlgreave Village
Start and End Point : SK 205,640 (Small Car Park near Coldwell End, West of Youlgreave)
Distance : Nearly 12 miles (19 km)
Significant heights : See end of this post

Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk 4Maps : 1:25,000 OS Outdoor Leisure Map no.24 – The Peak District White Peak Area

Summary : A clockwise circular walk, right in the middle of the beautiful English Peak District, starting (and therefore finishing) at Youlgreave Village, taking in The Limestone Way, Cales Dale, Western End of Lathkill Dale, Monyash, Magpie Mine (near Sheldon), Over Haddon, Eastern End of Lathkill Dale, Alport, Bradford Dale, Youlgreave Village.

If you click on a pic’, it should launch as a larger image on my photostream on Flickr … a right click should give you the option of launching in a separate window/page.

If you’ve just come to my blog post/walk write up at this page (2 of 2) without seeing my previous post, you might like to jump to “20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 1 of 2)” which contains the following :-

• An Apology :-
• Who With :-
• A Little Preamble :-
• The 1st Half of the Walk :- Youlgreave to Monyash and on to The Magpie Mine.

20150906-33b_Magpie Mine (south of Sheldon)

The 2nd Half of the Walk :-
The Magpie Mine to Youlgreave.
20150906-37_Out in front_Green Lane approaching Kirk DaleAfter a bit of a break in this interesting place (The Magpie Mine that is), we needed to raise ourselves to press on. The route I’d chosen took us to the northern most part of the site, through some rough workings and then instead of heading further north to the village of Sheldon, we took the path sort of north-eastwards and then south-eastwards to pick up a green lane bounded by two walls descending into Kirk Dale, where we met a minor road.

20150906-38_Butterfly - Tortoiseshell

20150906-40_View Over Kirkdale (Nr Sheldon)Our route pretty much crossed straight over the road, to steeply climb out of the dale (no contouring here!) to reach a stand of trees on the hill top. The views back from where we’d come from are lovely and after the short sharp exertions climbing the hill, an extremely good excuse to stop and catch our breath. The area around here is also pock-marked with old lead/fluor-spar mine workings and is noted on my map as The Magshaw Mine, but there’s very little left to see compared to The Magpie Mines recently left behind.

20150906-41_Wide Spaces heading for Over HaddonThe route now was in effect skirting around Bole Hill and had reached its highest point on the walk at about 340 metres above sea level. The aspect is open here and the walking easy, downhill, over a series of grassy fields taking pretty much a straight-line in a south-easterly direction all the way to the outskirts of the village of Over Haddon. The only interruption to the path was where the B5055 20150906-42_Tea Shop (Over Haddon)bisects through the route, sort of mid-way between Bole Hill Farm and Melbourne Farm.

Over Haddon itself is reached by turning left on a minor road (Monyash Road), passing a riding stables before turning right to pass a sizeable car-park. Just after passing the car park as the road started to descend somewhat steeper, we came upon The Garden Tea Shop.

20150906-43_Tea Shop Prices (Over Haddon)Well the sun was shining, we had plenty of time, the prices looked reasonable and the terrace area with an eclectic mix of terracotta pots and plants looked inviting. So after a brief (very brief) discussion we opted to head in for drinks and cake.

The reasonable prices changed to extremely good value once we saw the size of the cake pieces. Excellent value for money as we sat out in the sun on the patio/terrace area next to a small formal pool with their friendly terrier for company, looking out over the view above Lathkill Dale.

20150906-44_What is over here_Friendly Tea Shop Dog

20150906-47_Making Music in Lathkill DaleA recurring theme again presented itself …. We had to raise ourselves from our pleasant surroundings to press on once again, which took us back to the lane and a turn to the right then took us steeply downhill, as the road first dogged-legged left and then back to the right. As we did this the muted sounds of gentle classical music being practiced wafted up out of the garden below in the valley bottom, a guitar if memory serves me right. The road again bent sharply to the left around a large white house. We were once again deep in Lathkill Dale and were now about nine miles into the walk with three possible routes to take.

• Turning right, upstream would have taken us back to the junction with Cales Dale and a retrace of The Limestone Way back to Youlgreave.
• Going straight on, over the river and steeply up the opposite valley side, would take us to a farm (Meadow Place Grange) and then the options of a further three paths to Youlgreave. This would be the shortest route back to the start.
• Turning left, down-stream, on a path on the left hand side of the river.

It was the last of the options that I’d got planned, and we continued on through the lush vegetation, close to the river bank, bounded with steep wooded slopes on both 20150906-48_Swans_Lathkill Dalesides. The river starts to widen and some lovely views open up where the path ends up slightly raised above the valley bottom. A series of weirs, some quite sizeable, create pools and in the afternoon sun the colour of the water was absolutely beautiful, a greeny-tourquoisey-blue with vibrant green water weeds trailing in the sedate flow. This is gentle English countryside at its very best, understated and charming, almost polite (if a landscape can be polite), reflecting the best of British character. The path then drops gently to rejoin the river side and one place in particular was being enjoyed by several families having picnics and enjoying the autumn sunshine. This really was a perfect day to be outside.

20150906-49b_River Lathkill_Lathkill Dale

20150906-52_Into the Sun_Lathkill DaleFrom here the path becomes more made-up, wider, flatter and very easy going, to reach Conksbury Bridge, where a minor road crosses the river via a stone bridge. We needed to cross over the bridge being aware of the occasional car that passed by, but it was impossible to not to stop and take in the view over the bridge walls looking back up-stream from where we’d just come from and indeed on the opposite side looking downstream.

20150906-54_Lathkill Dale Relections

It was downstream that we needed to head, but the path does not hug the banks from here, instead we had to walk up the road (heading south) and soon after, where the road starts bending to the right, the path sets off again on the left, contouring, a little raised above the river at a stand of trees, with a water meadow below. After just a few hundred yards or so the path reaches a very small road (just below Raper Lodge).

20150906-55_Pack-Horse Bridge + Wier - Lathkill DaleA very small diversion was now a must! A turn to the left down the road/track quickly brought us to a lovely spot where a narrow pack-horse bridge crosses the river, which is dammed by a small pretty semi-circular shaped weir, creating a pool behind, the surface perfectly reflecting the surrounding trees. I’ve been here many times and would return again in a heartbeat – I love this place, the scenery almost secret and intimate, especially with the sun shining and no one else around. A few of us returned to an old childhood game and played pooh sticks for a few minutes, the flow from the weir taking our “straws” under the bridge arch and off downstream.

20150906-56_Lathkill Dale Rugged Weir Waterfall

The view downstream is lovely too, albeit a little more open with a water/flower meadow on the right bank, the river gently arching through the landscape with the heavily wooded steep flank of the valley rising directly above. The many varieties of 20150906-58_Lathkill Dale Summerhouse Arboretum-esquetrees give the feeling of an arboretum or tree garden and that feeling is enhanced by a small summer house nestled at the bottom of the slope. Enough of waxing lyrical, we again had to drag ourselves away from a beautiful place, and retraced our steps back to the path just below Raper Lodge. I here gave two options to my friends …

• Straight on up the minor road, to then take minor roads directly into Youlgreave village (the shortest option)
• Or ….. Turn left onto an easy path to continue down Lathkill Dale and then up some of Bradford Dale before rising into Youlgreave (the slightly longer option by about ¾ of a mile)

20150906-59_Squeeze Stile_Lathkill DaleMy friends chose the longer option, which suited me as I like the walk across a series of grassy fields separated by dry stone walls and squeeze stiles, running more or less parallel with the river. Lathkill Dale was now much wider than at any point before, a complete contrast to the upper reaches of the gorge walked through this morning. It’s still lovely in a gentler kind of way and we soon reached a minor road at the very small village of Alport; the groupings of attractive stone cottages little more than a hamlet really.

20150906-60_Alport_Lathkill Dale + Bradford Dale

20150906-61_River Lathkill_AlportThe River Lathkill here crosses under the road, tumbles down a little cascade and joins the River Bradford. A red telephone box stands sentinel here, but as an example of how modern times have all but removed the need for public land-lines, the phone itself has gone; to be replaced with a defibrillator unit. A good way especially in rural places, to add a self-help unit in medical emergencies and at the same time maintain a truly iconic piece of British design – The humble traditional telephone box.

Where the river crosses under the road, the path crosses straight over bending slightly right dropping a little to reach and then cross over the River Bradford. We’d now left Lathkill Dale and entered Bradford Dale near a farm; the farm on the northern side of the stream, us on the opposite southern side of the river. The easy path/farm track 20150906-63_Heron_Bradford Daleheads upstream adjacent to the river with gentle water meadows and small limestone outcrops/cliffs.

I’ve seen water voles, kingfishers, dippers and herons here in the past, and today we were lucky enough to see a heron stood in the stream near a small stone footbridge where we stopped for the obligatory group photo’s – there’s something about a bridge that shouts “group photo required” … similar to reaching a trig-point on top of a hill.

20150906-62_Walking Friends_Stone Bridge_Bradford Dale

The path crosses Mawstone Lane and continues on, next to the small river, but now on the northern bank where the stream is punctuated by a series of small weirs. These 20150906-66_River Bradford_Bradford Dale_Below YoulgreaveI believe are designed to aerate the water, and form small pools to encourage a good habitat for trout. Further up the valley towards Middleton the weirs become more like mini dams, the pools becoming larger and deeper and obviously support much larger fish. However, we weren’t destined to see these pools 20150906-67_Across Bradford to Bleakley Plantation from Youlgreavetoday because soon after crossing the last minor road, a path cuts up the valley side to enter Youlgreave Village, the rise affording some super views back over Bradford Dale to the hills to the south. The path after joining a side road, emerges into the village at a road. Turning right would take you into the “heart” of Youlgreave, including a square 20150906-68_Youlgreave Villagetowered Church, two pubs, and an impressively large circular water storage device opposite the Youth Hostel (in the old CO-OP building). However, we turned left, passing out of the village at Coldwell End to reach our car-park and our cars.

A super day, good company, great weather, fantastic varied scenery and a good day was had by all. I’d do it all again tomorrow without hesitation – but maybe in the other direction.

A Note about heights climbed :-
The following figures are approx. only (estimated by reading contours on my map) and don’t take into consideration the distance taken to cover the height differences and therefore gradients, but it gives an indication of the heights gained during the walk. The steepest single climb would be the section out of Kirk Dale. I’ve ignored the down bits because I don’t think there was anything of particular difficulty, the steepest bit being on the zig-zaggy road at Over Haddon, immediately after the tea shop.

• Youlgreave to Calling Low = approx. 110m (360 ft)
• Junction of Cales Dale/Lathkill Dale to Monyash = approx. 110m (360 ft)
• Monyash (at start of Horse Lane) to Magpie Mine = approx. 65m (213 ft)
• Kirk Dale to Magshaw Mine area = approx. 40m (131 ft)
• Bradford Dale to Youlgreave = approx. 35m (115 ft)

As the Magpie Mine is about half way round (roughly speaking), you can see most of the ascents are in the first half of the walk, which means the second half is mostly descent. The ground was mostly sound, easy underfoot; my memory maybe failing me, but I can’t remember a single ploughed field or any particularly muddy areas. Obviously, time of year and weather conditions could affect this though.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.


20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 1 of 2)

20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 1 of 2)

When : 6th September 2015
Who : Me, my son and some of The Coventry CHA A+ walkers
Where : Peak District National Park – Youlgreave Village
Start and End Point : SK 205,640 (Small Car Park near Coldwell End, West of Youlgreave)
Distance : Nearly 12 miles (19 km)
Significant heights : See end of post 2 of 2

Maps : 1:25,000 OS Outdoor Leisure Map no.24 – The Peak District White Peak Area

20150906-16_Limestone Cliffs Above Lathkill DaleSummary :

A clockwise circular walk, in the middle of the beautiful English Peak District, starting (and therefore finishing) at Youlgreave Village, taking in The Limestone Way, Cales Dale, Western End of Lathkill Dale, Monyash, Magpie Mine (near Sheldon), Over Haddon, Eastern End of Lathkill Dale, Alport, Bradford Dale, Youlgreave Village.

If you click on a pic’, it should launch as a larger image on my photostream on Flickr … a right click should give you the option of launching in a separate window/page.

An Apology :-
Firstly, I really need to apologise for the extreme delay for taking soooooo very long to get Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk 4around to writing this post, following up on my last public post in September 2015 ! …. The reasons are complex and really, you don’t need to know the ins and outs and you probably wouldn’t be that interested anyway, as it’s nothing to do with walking …. But hey, as the cliché says “better late than never”; so, I’ve finally got around to typing this up and I felt it would be sensible to carry on where I left off and complete my scribblings about the Youlgreave Walk that I’d left hanging as just potential routes.

As it happens, it was potential route-4 that we ended up doing on a simply fantastic day of walking.

Who With :-
As a small group of walking friends and (at the time) members of The Coventry CHA 20150906-06_Limestone Way near Calling Lowrambling Club, once a month we would do a walk a bit more strenuous than the normal programme of Sunday walks … It was called the A+ walk, although that’s maybe rather arbitrary compared to other walking clubs. A+ just meant a tad harder than the other walks on the programme, giving the opportunity of :

• Starting earlier/finishing later,
• Travelling further afield,
• Walking further,
• Potentially more strenuous ups and downs,
• and maybe over rougher terrain,
• Without meeting the coach at lunch time,
• Or …. a combination of all of these.

Instead of using the normal coach from Coventry City Centre, we’d use our own cars, arranging lifts amongst ourselves and meeting at a pre-arranged place and time. Bringing this up-to-date (2017), we A+ers still meet and walk together, but no longer under the umbrella of the CHA club.

A Little Preamble :-
The walk on this day was due to be led by one gent’, I think he’d planned it to be in Staffordshire somewhere, but, unfortunately, due to a knee injury, he had to pull out … 20150906-20_Looking down upper reaches of Lathkill Daleleaving a void to be filled. So, I found myself volunteering to lead in his stead, saying I’d find a circular route somewhere in the White Peak Area, straight off the map, without the need to pioneer/reconnoitre, given I’ve done many walks up there over the years.

Please see my earlier post for the potential routes I’d worked out based on the fantastic area around Lathkill Dale, a place I think is simply beautiful and encapsulates so much of what “The White Peak” has to offer the discerning walker. I chose to meet at a small car-park just outside Youlgreave, to the west of the village near Coldwell End, on a minor road to Middleton …. From memory, I’m sure it was free for the day, and there was a small toilet block.

The 1st Half of the Walk :-
Youlgreave to Monyash and on to The Magpie Mine.
20150906-01b_Looking over Bradford Dale nr MiddletonAfter congregating, donning boots and rucksacks we set off in a westerly direction on the aforementioned road towards Middleton, with brill’ views over the wooded Bradford Dale on our lef. We then branched right where the road splits, to rise steadily ignoring a footpath just before a bend, instead following the road round to the left and then picking up a path (Limestone Way) on the right 20150906-02_Limestone Way above Bradford Daleheading diagonally upwards across a field towards a small area of woodland. Passing through the wood very quickly, the path still rising swung right to head in a more northerly direction to meet Moor Lane, another minor road, at a car-park. This was one of the car-parks I’d considered as a starting point but discounted on the grounds of cost, but I guess charges could be subject to change in the future.

20150906-03_On The Limestone Way (Youlgreave Area)Turning left on the minor road quickly brought us to a junction with another road (Back Lane) which we basically crossed straight over to continue on The Limestone Way across grassy fields, bounded by the typical drystone walls of this part of the world. The path was still rising, but with the gradient now much reduced compared to earlier, allowing us to stride out somewhat, chatting happily amongst ourselves on what was turning out to be a beautiful day with blue skies, high wispy clouds and a light breeze, perfect walking weather!

20150906-04_Handsome Horned CattleIn the corner of one field we met a rather handsome horned cow, sat apparently enjoying the autumn sunshine. We walked by, crossing the nearby stile into the next field without it batting an eye-lid. Carrying on, we passed through another small wood whilst skirting around Calling Low farmstead, where I was taken by the quality of the filtered light and vibrancy of some mosses obviously loving the secluded damp conditions.

20150906-07_Moss + Woods - Playing with Focus + Bokeh

20150906-08_Descent into Cales DaleThe path from here cut across another three or four fields, now with a gentle downhill gradient and then steepening slightly to meet another line of woodland. The path then became very steep for a very short way, down a set of steps, descending into Cales Dale.

An option here was to climb straight out the other side of the valley (on The Limestone Way), but I’d chosen to turn right, heading downwards (generally northwards) in the valley bottom to soon emerge, via a wooden footbridge over The River Lathkill, into the more open and far larger and impressive Lathkill Dale with its limestone crags and cliffs, scree, grassy slopes, scrub and stands of trees along the cliff tops. I just love this valley and never tire of revisiting again and again.

20150906-09_Limestone Cliffs Above Lathkill Dale

20150906-10_Footbridge Junction of Cales Dale into Lathkill Dale

20150906-15_Limestone Cliffs Above Lathkill Dale

20150906-18_Peacock Butterfly with Hoverfly_Lathkill Dale

Now, if you wanted a shorter walk, you could turn right here and head east towards Over Haddon, but in my humble opinion, you’d be missing possibly the best part of Lathkill Dale, the top quarter is superb. Heading up the valley with crag-lines above, the river begins to peter out eventually disappearing at a cave in the valley side. We stopped near here for a bit of a break, where I spent a little time chasing a Peacock Butterfly as it flitted from thistle flower to thistle flower. Eventually, when I got a couple of shots, it ended up I’d captured a hoverfly at the same time.

20150906-19_Upper reaches of Lathkill DaleHere-abouts and moving on, the valley sides close in becoming more gorge like and the path becomes rockier and rises a little more steeply, especially where Ricklow Dale branches off to the right. There is a path that heads up Ricklow Dale, but we stayed left, remaining in Lathkill Dale, to emerge into more open country, the valley now shallower with grassy slopes and a broad grassy path to follow.

20150906-23_Wide Inviting Path - Lathkill DaleAfter the rocky gorge, we could fairly bound along (bit of an exaggeration, but hey, gotta be able to stretch the imagination sometimes). The paths meets the B5055 road, just to the east of Monyash village where there are often cars parked by the side of the road and there is a small toilet block. Almost directly opposite, on the other side of the road, the path continues but the now very shallow valley is now known as Bagshaw Dale and skirts around to the north of Monyash.

20150906-24_MonyashHowever, if you did this, you’d miss out on the charms of the village itself, and having done both in the past, I far prefer heading up the road into the village, so that’s what we did this time. The other advantage of doing this, is there’s a pub (The Bulls Head) and right next door, a café (The Old Smithy) both of which I’ve enjoyed using several times in the past. Today, it was the cafés turn to gain our business, ice creams being a favourite choice and we sat in the sun on the village green near the old stone cross. The establishments are popular with walkers, cyclists, bikers and visitors in cars. such is the draw of this quintessentially English village with its stone buildings clad with climbers, a spired church, cottage gardens and the village green with mature trees, stone cross, memorial and benches to rest on – Just a pretty place to tarry a while.

20150906-25_Cinqifolia Clad Stone Frontage - Monyash

20150906-26b_Monyash Village Cross

20150906-28_Side by Side_Monyash Tea Shop and Pub

I’ve heard the village pronounced as Money-Ash/Munny-ash, Moan-ee-Ash and Mon-ee-Ash, I don’t know why but I’ve always favoured the first of these; perhaps I’m wrong, but whichever it is, the village dates back centuries as indicated by the plaque associated with the village cross which states: –

“The village cross dates from circa 1340 when the village was granted a charter to hold a weekly market on a Tuesday and a three day fair to celebrate the festival of Holy Trinity. It is likely the cross itself was made of wood and mounted on top of the stone shaft. The circular holes in the base are where the lead miners tested their drills after sharpening at the smithy”.

20150906-27_Monyash Village CrossIt seems the defacing of public artefacts is nothing new. If this was done now-a-days I’m sure there’d be outrage, but this “vandalism” is now of historical interest.

Despite how good it felt sat on the green in the sun, we needed to raise ourselves and get our legs moving again, so, heading on from the café (westwards on Church Street) for a very short distance we turned right into Chapel Street, to head north staying on the right hand side of the road. At this point the route passes onto the other side of the dual sided map, but don’t bother re-arranging the sheet as the road soon re-emerges back onto the side of the map we’d been on so far, and we’d now gone as far west as this walk reaches. In fact, after a few hundred yards, we soon turned right 20150906-29_Bagshaw Daleagain, this time into Horse Lane, starting the big loop back to our start point. There are two footpaths near this road interchange, one heading up-hill northwards (not for us today) and the other heading off to the right into a grassy shallow valley. This is the top of Bagshaw Dale and is where we’d have emerged had we not opted to head into Monyash at the head of Lathkill Dale. This path was also not for us today. Instead we continued up Horse lane. Although on tarmac (which I try to avoid where practical) the views around us, and especially behind us, were superb, typical White Peak scenery of vibrant 20150906-30_Horse Lane looking over Monyashgreen grassy pastures bounded by limestone drystone walls, a smattering of lone trees and larger stands of woodland interspersed with farmsteads – Just lovely!

After less than half a mile, another path branches off on the left heading up hill (not steep) across the middle of a field. There now followed a series of walls/small fields the path rising in a roughly north easterly direction to reach and then cross through a long thin line of woodland (Hard Rake Plantation). Two more small fields later brought us to another minor road (might be called Flagg Lane ?). A turn to the right along the lane, a bear right again where Johnson Lane joins at a T-junction and then another couple of hundred yards along the road brought us to where the path leaves the tarmac to go cross country again. The terrain here is somewhat rougher and churned up indicating old industry – Lead mining. A few more fields and we reached our next major landmark, The Magpie Mine, with its chimneys, semi-ruined buildings and old winding gear structure. A group is working to preserve the site as a glimpse into the past and I bought a guide booklet as we passed by.

20150906-32_Magpie Mine (south of Sheldon)The mine area is well worth a little time to explore and it’s fortunate that a number of footpaths converge here from several directions. I think this is a great place for a lunch stop and it was here many years ago now, that I chatted to (and shared my packed lunch with) a young lady I’d met that day for the first time. This was during another walk I was leading, for The Coventry Youth Hostel Local Group, (now renamed The Coventry Outdoor Group). That young lady is now my lovely wife of over 20 years and brill’ Mum to 20150906-36_Magpie Mine (south of Sheldon)our two kids. Back then we were staying in Bakewell Youth Hostel and it’s another case of YHA standing not just for Youth Hostel Association but also Your Husband Assured. Therefore, The Magpie Mine carries a special place in my heart and always will do! At that moment in time, all those years ago, it never remotely occurred to me I’d be walking through the very same place about half way round a 12 mile walk with my son, but that’s exactly what happened.

The 2nd Half of the Walk :-
The Magpie Mine to Youlgreave.
As this write up seems to be getting reasonably long, I think it might be best if I continue on a second post, so for now I’ll say good-bye, and hope you pick up again in a moment or two at “20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 2 of 2)”

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20130806-C_Strange Wooden Carvings in Wetton – Wetton Man, Wetton Woman and Wetton Boy

20130806-C_Strange Wooden Carvings in Wetton – Wetton Man, Wetton Woman and Wetton Boy

When : 6th August 2013 … This update on 5th June 2014.

Just a little of an update / extra bit of info. that you might find of interest.

I wrote in my earlier blogs about some strange wooden carvings in the garden in Wetton …

“We now had a little road walking to do, entering the village passing a mixture of farms and homes as we went. One such home, with traditionally striped lawns had some rather striking and very un-traditional sculptures carved out of wood and “planted” in the garden. Some folk have a very odd sense of aesthetic, but I suppose it takes allsorts and the larger than life gargoyles certainly brought a smile to our faces.”

20130806-08_Garden Gargoyle Sculptures - Wetton

Wetton Man, Wetton Boy and Wetton Woman

Well, the owner has contacted me and informed me that he’s posted some videos on YouTube with the story of




So, if you want to know more, follow the links above.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

April 2014 = Excited

I am excited !

Why ?

Coz I’ve just booked a 3-day / 2-night break in The Peak Distict.

Who’s going ?

Just me and my 12-y.o son.

What’s the plan ?

Day-1 …. Drive up into The Peak District …. Do a bit of a walk – Maybe around the Dove Dale area …. Drive to Ravenstor Youth Hostel to Over-night.

Day-2 …. Leave car at the hostel and walk to Youlgreave Youth Hostel, carrying all our over-night gear – So I guess you could call it sort of back-packing. Anticipate going through places like Water-Cum-Jolly Dale, Monsal Head and Lathkill Dale?

Dat-3 …. Walk back to Ravenstor YH, via a different route, perhaps taking in Over Haddon, Magpie Mine and Sheldon ? drive home to exchange stories with the girls – Anticipate them having days out in Birmingham etc.

Now, all we need is firstly the weather to be dry and then hopefully warm [but not too warm] and most preferably sunny …. What’s the chances of 3-days like that in England.

and at some point I’m sure I’ll post up some write ups at some point.




20130806-A_1st Half – Alstonefield-Wetton-Thor’s Cave Circular Walk

20130806-A_Alstonefield-Wetton-Thor’s Cave Circular Walk.

1st Half – Alstonefield to Thor’s Cave via Wetton.

20130806-46_Village Green - AlstonefieldWhen : 6th August 2013

Who : Me and my family

Where : The Peak District, White Peak Area, Staffordshire (I think) roughly between Ashbourne and Buxton.

Start Point : SK 132,556

End Point : Same as above (‘cause it’s a circular)

Full Circular Walk Distance : Approx 5.25 miles (8.5 km)

This half : Alstonefield – Thor’s Cave, via Wetton : Approx 2.5 miles (4km)

20130806-44_Drystone wall - near AlstonefieldSignificant heights : See end of 2nd half diary for details.

Map : Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Outdoor Leisure Map OL 24 The Peak District White Peak Area.

Summary : Not a long walk, but with lots of interest, taking in two villages, a country pub (or two depending on timings), a cave to explore and fantastic views over The Manifold Valley …. Oh and lots of opportunity to extend the walk if you want.

If you click on a pic’ it should hopefully launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream – At least I hope so because I’m trying a new way of attaching the images – The first time for this method on this diary – Please let me know if it works or not ?????

 We’d booked a three-day short break in the peak district (two nights stay at The Navigation Inn at Buxworth) and we’d roughly planned the itinerary as following :-

Well, I’ve already written some diary blogs about days two and three so, to complete the set, this diary write-up details (a little belatedly I’m afraid) Day-One :-

We started off by traveling north to Ashbourne via Motorways and A-roads. Once at Ashbourne we picked up the A515 towards Buxton and then after a few miles turned off left and found our way into Alstonefield on attractively twisty-turny minor roads: dropping steeply into and then out of Mill Dale crossing the famous River Dove en-route.

20130806_Alstonefield-Wetton-Thor's Cave-Wetton-Alstonefield Circular Walk

20130806-45_The George - Pub in AlstonefieldAlthough really not much to it, Alstonefield is a pretty little village, and includes a country pub (The George) and out front is a small, roughly triangular, village green with a smattering of farms, stand alone homes and terraced cottages nearby. It was on one of the roads here-abouts that we parked up as considerately as possible, donned boots and raised our day-sacks onto backs. Then, after I’d done a quick appraisal of the map to find my (and therefore our) bearings we set off in a roughly 20130806-01a_Alstonefield VillageWesterly direction (down what I think might be a part of Church Street or maybe Post office Road) but I can’t find a map to 100% confirm this).

On our right was a charming row of terraced cottages, complete with climbing roses and other plants on the walls, and pretty hanging baskets in full bloom. At the end of the road we crossed a larger road to pick up a path (still heading west) and headed out into the beautiful countryside that is The Peak District, our route aiming for the village of Wetton.

The Peak district is really split into two distinctive areas

  • The dark Peak (in the north) plus the eastern and western edges that are dominated by gritstone and peat moorland and are generally more rugged and harsh compared to The White Peak.
  • The White Peak (in the south) is generally softer in appearance where much is given over to grassy pastureland for the rearing of sheep and cattle, the underlying rock is limestone and as such is pretty much free draining and the landscape features dry valleys and steep sided dales such as that of the River Dove (crossed by car on the way to Alstonefield) and The Manifold Valley (The farthest point of our walk today).

20130806-02_Dry Stone WallOne major feature of the White Peak is the countless number of small fields, bounded by limestone dry-stone walls. The walls are complicated to construct (no mortar is used) and take ages to build – it’s a real skill ! ….. There are literally thousands of these walls dissecting the landscape, dividing the area into small parcels of land. It’s impossible to imagine just how many man-hours 20130806-04_Squeeze Stile near  Alstonefield(or years) it would have taken to build them all from scratch. We would cross quite a few of these fields on the walk, often negotiating the lines of walls via squeeze stiles, so called because of the narrow gap allowing humans to pass through relatively easily, whilst preventing any livestock (even lambs) from getting to the other side.

In one such field (near Furlong Lane) a small collection of lambs were completely unfazed by the four of us walking across their “home”. I say lambs, but they were quite well grown and two of them were obviously fed up with eating the plentiful grass all around them, as they were pawing at an overturned feeding trough, 20130806-05_Hungry Sheepdesperately trying to right the plastic tray. They were obviously thinking there may be some kind of tasty morsels underneath. In the few minutes it took for us to pass by, they almost succeeded in their quest, and maybe they would have done if they’d worked as a team, but ultimately they failed, the trough staying stubbornly up-side-down. I suppose they would just have to return to eating the green sward just like their compatriots elsewhere in the field.

The path here rose to join the very minor road of Lodge Lane, where, instead of crossing straight over, we turned right for a very short distance to Brook Lodge, sat at a sharp bend in the road (Lodge Lane becomes Furlong Lane here). Here we turned left into and then up a track cum path, bounded on both sides by some more dry-stone walls, albeit looking a bit worse for wear in places. 20130806-06_Walled Green LaneThis “green lane” rises up in a shallow valley called Windledale Hollow. After a few hundred yards or so, we had to leave the lane, crossing the left hand wall into the corner of a field and then heading across the middle of the field rising as we went, our heading a little north of west. As we moved on through several more grassy fields, the path swung left in a long curve, so that we were heading a little south of west when we reached a minor road (Buxton Road) just on the outskirts of Wetton.

We now had a little road walking to do, entering the village passing a mixture of farms and homes as we went. One such home, with traditionally 20130806-08_Garden Gargoyle Sculptures - Wettonstriped lawns had some rather striking and very un-traditional sculptures carved out of wood and “planted” in the garden. Some folk have a very odd sense of aesthetic, but I suppose it takes allsorts and the larger than life gargoyles certainly brought a smile to our faces. Just up the road a short distance however, the gardens were much more as expected with fragrant roses and other cottage garden plants enhancing the village 20130806-11_Bench - Village Green - Wettonappearance. A little farther on, we reached a very small village green completely dominated by a large tree and a circular wall “planter” … Happily there were a number of wooden benches conveniently placed for weary-legged walkers to park their bottoms. This we did as this was an ideal place for a break on our journey and a bite to eat.

Drinks wise, the pub (Ye Olde Royal Oak directly across the road) was just too tempting to resist. We were lucky to get served however, as they were about to close for the afternoon, but as we had crossed the threshold the 20130806-10_Ye Olde Royal Oak - Wettonland-lady was happy to serve us (a pint of locally brewed ale, a lager, a sweet cider and J20 was the round) and they were equally happy for us to carry them back across the road to the bench we’d chosen on the green. The only instruction was to “please place the empty glasses somewhere near their entrance door” because they were locking up and “going out” for a while. Just a couple of minutes after they’d turned the key and driven away, another party of walkers came past, only to be disappointed the pub was now shut. I’m sure there was an envious glance or two over towards us, sat as we were with our recently purchased refreshments.

Once our thirsts had been quenched, our hunger sated and our legs rested, we moved on, taking a path through the nearby church grounds/graveyard to emerge onto another minor village road (School Lane). We turned left, 20130806-14_Spikey plants in rusty gutterwhere-upon our son realised he’d left his walking pole behind and we allowed him to run (at a sprint) back to the green to retrieve them. Whilst waiting, I “played” at taking some “arty” narrow depth of field photo’s of some spiky plants growing in a very rusty length of guttering. My lovely girls (wife and daughter) meanwhile simply stood and chatted, which continued after son had re-emerged, just at a trot now instead of the manic pace of earlier.

We set off again, heading south-westerly on School Lane, pausing briefly to say hello to a brood (or peep / clutch ?) of hens, free ranging on the roadside and atop more dry-stone walls. At the end of the road we needed to bear 20130806-17_Hen - Wettonright for a very short distance (Leek Road) to reach a junction with a farm track. This is where it could become a little tricky if you are doing this bit of the walk. The OS map shows a footpath heading off from this junction into a field, and there is indeed a finger post pointing this way – BUT – we ignored this, instead following the farm track itself which is a permissive way heading gently downhill – The easiest and most direct to Thor’s Cave. In fact if you zoom in close enough on “streetmap” (http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?x=413500&y=355500&z=120&sv=alstonefield&st=3&tl=Map+of+Alstonefield,+Staffordshire+%5BCity/Town/Village%5D&searchp=ids.srf&mapp=map.srf ) it labels this as Thor’s Lane (Track).

I’m quite happy walking with a little gentle conversation, but my family after a period of time tend to get a little, errrmmm, “silly” with their observations (the field next to us magically gained several hippopotami, various other wild creatures and if memory serves me right, some elves, goblins, orcs and even a wizard and some hobbits hiding amongst the hummocks and hollows). They also like playing word games and singing songs – even making them up as they go along sometimes – Thor’s Lane thus became an impromptu stage for various renditions and adaptations of The Worsels “I’ve got a brand new combined harvester” sang at quite a volume interspersed with laughter and delivered complete with long grass seed-heads jauntily poking out from their mouths.

20130806-24_Thor's CaveAt the end of the track, a path of sorts heads off (after crossing the wall on the right) over some roughish terrain eventually rising as a narrow (and a little muddy) pathway swinging around the right hand side of a hill. This soon spectacularly emerges high above The Manifold Valley, our little pathway merging with a much larger track rising steeply out of the valley. It is often very busy here, and today was no exception as we merged into other gaggles of people, either ascending or descending the hillside. Despite the earlier singing of my family, it was quite a shock to the senses really – Humans really are very noisy animals when congregating together. Anyway, the reason for the popularity of this spot was soon reached – Thor’s Cave.

20130806-28_Looking down into Manifold Valley (from Thors Cave)This is almost a must-do on the list of things to see in The Peak District. The cave is large but needs a little scrambling (or at least scrabbling) to gain access into it and this alone would be interesting enough, but its position suspended high above a bend in the beautiful Manifold Valley enhances the viewpoint to well beyond the ordinary. Our kids headed up into the mouth of the cave, whilst my wife and I were quite happy to stand on a small flat bit of land, a bit like a wide ledge, just enjoying the vista.

Well, I’m going to break off here, just to linger and enjoy the views a little longer. The second half of the walk diary continues on a new post if you’d like to carry on reading.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20130807_An early morning wander at Bugsworth Canal Basin

20130807_An early morning wander at Bugsworth Canal Basin

When : 07 August 2013

Who : Just me

Where : Buxworth, sort of midway between Chapel-En-Le-Frith and Whaley Bridge, just off the A6 [ grid-ref. SK023,821 ]

Map = OS. 1:25,000 Explorer map OL1, The Peak District, Dark Peak Area

20130807_Bugsworth Canal Basin

20130807-25_Narrow Boats at Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.haddenNot a walks diary as such, just a quick word on this quiet, hidden way spot we just happened upon whilst looking for budget accommodation [The Navigation Inn] for a short break in/near The Peak District ….. This was the middle of the 3-days of our break; we’d done a walk the previous day (at Alstonefield) and today was earmarked for a “touristy“ day at Chatsworth House and Gardens (see separate diary for some blurb about our time at Chatsworth).

20130807-06_Stone Wall - Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.haddenI awoke really quite early and was up and about much earlier than the rest of my family, so I decided to take advantage of “The Golden Hour” of just before/just after sunrise, especially as the weather was perfect, with a slight chill in the air but the promise of some sunshine to come.

So I quickly donned some clothes, grabbed my camera and crept out of the room so as not to wake my wife (I didn’t need to worry about the kids, as they were sharing in a separate room down the corridor).

Once outside, I first headed to the car to check everything was in order (it was), and I was quite struck by the heavy dew fall on the roof with the early soft light glinting off the droplets of water.

20130807-01_Early morning dew and sunlight by gary.hadden    20130807-02_Early morning dew and sunlight by gary.hadden

20130807-07_Early morning mists at Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.haddenI then had a good wander around the historic site of Bugsworth Canal Basin, which is the end (or the beginning ?) of The Peak Forest Canal. This was once a hugely important industrial site for the vicinity, and whilst I could try to make up my own words about the area, it’s far easier and much more accurate for me to regurgitate the words of much more knowledgeable folk, as noted on some info-boards placed around the basin area.

To start with, some official looking info’, from an official looking info board :-


Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Derbyshire County SMR No.242.

Protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Area Act 1979.

Restored, Maintained and Managed by the Inland Waterways Protection Society Ltd.

Navigation Managed under the British waterways General Canal Bye-Laws 1965.

48 Hour Moorings Only.

Please help us to preserve this Internationally Important Industrial Heritage Site.

Sponsored by :-

Mersey Basin Campaign.

Bechtel Water Technology Limited.

High Peak Borough Council.

English Heritage.

20130807-16_Bubbles-Ripples and Concentric Circles by gary.hadden

And now for some more text, arguably far more interesting than the “blurb” above, from another info’ board :-


Over a hundred years ago, the quiet footpath in front of you was a tramway track (sorry I didn’t get a picture of this). A railway with a difference – here there was no hissing of steam! Instead, imagine the sound of horses’ hooves and the rattle of wagons being pulled along a track known as The Peak Forest Tramway. The tramway and the nearby canal were developed together as a means of transporting limestone from quarries at Dove Holes onto the canal network. Limestone was in demand for use in the many different industries of Cheshire and Lancashire.

Using the natural incline of the hills, the wagons rolled down to Bugsworth Basin. A workman known as a wagoner, who was in charge of the team of horses and wagons, supervised the journey by riding on the side of a wagon. Teams of horses 20130807-26_Fence + Shadows - B+W by gary.haddenwere used to pull the wagons back up. Many local people were employed on the tramway and in the mills that grew up along the route as a result of its success. Several of the original mill buildings are still in use. A short way up the trail is one such mill, Whitehall Works at Whitehough.

Spot the Tramway! With no rails left to show the route of the tramway, the only visible clue is the occasional stone sleeper block that the rails were fixed upon. Further along the trail, they are still in position. At Bugsworth Basin, they are along the side of the path, just a short distance from Crist Quarry where they were extracted. A bed of hard gritstone was discovered when the route for the tramway was being excavated. Realising that they had found a hard wearing stone, the constructor built a connecting line to the quarry from the tramway. As well as the sleeper blocks for the tramway, the stone was used to build the warehouses, bridges and locks along the canal. The quarry has now completely disappeared into the surrounding landscape.

For nearly 130 years, the Peak Forest Tramway was an effective means of transporting heavy goods between Dove Holes and Bugsworth Basin.

20130807-09_Grasses in early morning light by gary.hadden    20130807-11_Ferns growing in the walls - Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.hadden

20130807-15_Canal Side Flowers - Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.hadden     20130807-12_Canal Side Flowers - Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.hadden

And to paraphrase (rather than copy exactly) some final bits of info’ from a couple of other info boards around the basin area:-

Lads who worked on the tramway were called “nippers”. They helped with the teams of horses pulling the wagons up the line until being swapped with a fresh team. Today (rather than being an industrial site) the Tramway Trail is a haven for wildlife. Dippers can be spotted on the Black Brook and the surrounding hawthorn provide great food and cover for wildlife. Bugsworth Basin today is a tranquil place to walk and relax but in the 1890s, up to 80 boats a day were loaded here and Lime Kilns burnt limestone into lime.

20130807-21_Narrow Boat - Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.hadden

And now back to my own words :

Even though it was quite early there were already a few joggers out and about, taking advantage of the lovely start to the day, using the trail, canal tow-paths and another path 20130807-04_A6 near Buxworth + Whaley Bridge - Lone red car by gary.haddenthat made its way up to a modern footbridge over the nearby A6 road. This footbridge was about as far as I got, overlooking the dual carriageway and the first of the day’s traffic speeding along, effectively bypassing the old-world infrastructure I was encountering.

I suppose the engineers of the late 1800’s couldn’t possibly imagine (even in their wildest dreams) the scale of modern quarrying still going on in the Dove Holes area today and  how quickly and efficiently our road and rail systems transport the spoils of that labour around the country.

20130807-18_Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.haddenI was quite happy wandering, enjoying the wild flowers and reflections in the soft light, trying to make some half-decent images (all pic’s here are by me) and I hope I’ve captured a sense of tranquility of the morning.

20130807-20_Canal Side Flowers - Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.hadden   20130807-19_Canal Side Flowers - Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.hadden

At one point, I spent some time chatting to an older gent’ who was out walking his small dog; he’d lived in the area for many a year and had even worked in The Navigation Inn when 20130807-24_Heron in flight by gary.haddenit was owned by Pat Pheonix (Elsie Tanner of ITVs Coronation Street fame) …  The gent’, one of several dog walkers who had started to emerge as the morning progressed, explained that a heron had taken up residence on the far side of the cut, in a steep wooded bank. Since its arrival, no ducklings had managed to survive in the basin area this year. As I moved on, I happened to see the said heron in flight, making its way between the trees with its long, languid wing strokes, folded neck and tucked in head. Luckily, I didn’t witness it swoop down to eat any stray ducklings.

20130807-17_Bugsworth Basin near Buxworth by gary.hadden

I could happily have stayed out much longer. However, time was moving on and, after well over an hour, I decided it was time to head back inside, shower, breakfast and get ready for our day over on the other side of the Peak District National Park, at Chatsworth House and Gardens.

20130807-27_Roses and beer terrace - Navigation Inn - Bugsworth Basin - Buxworth by gary.hadden

Anyway, that’s enough for now, I hope you enjoyed my pic’s, and the words (albeit most of them were composed by others – but I’m sure they won’t mind their text being spread a little wider than before).

If you’d like to comment on my scribblings or my pic’s, please free to; I’d love to hear from you.



PS. As an aside, looking on my OS. map, there are footpaths, bridleways and canal towpaths (including The Goyt Way and Midshires Way) heading into the hills both to the south and north of Buxworth. Also, just 3-4 miles to the north (as the crow flies) and a little longer by road, is Hayfield. Hayfield is the famous starting point of The Mass Trespass up onto the moors of Kinder Scout, which ultimately led to today’s fantastic network of public footpaths in our hills, across our beautiful countryside and open-access to our high open spaces – Brave, dedicated people with a great vision of how society can be and actually needs to be, fair for all, encapsulated in the phrase “a right to roam”.

20130807_ Chatsworth House and Gardens

20130807_ Chatsworth House and Gardens

When : 07 August 2013

Who : Me and my family

Where : The Peak District – Central England …. Chatsworth House near Baslow

Directions : Get reasonably close and there are loads of good signage to direct you down the correct roads to car-parking – Just look for the brown signs.

Maps = OS. 1:25,000 Explorer map OL24, The Peak District, White Peak Area.

Grid ref. : SK260,702

Not a walks diary as such, just a quick word on the family day out we had on a short 3-day break in The Peak District … this was the middle day of the three, sandwiched between two days that involved country walks, but I guess we must have walked at least four miles around the grounds, seeing as we were there for most of the day and there are literally miles of paths that can be wandered around, and we didn’t venture up the hillside much at-all.

If you click on a photo’ it should launch as a larger image on my flickr site … or … if you just want to see the pics without the wordy bits, use this link to the set of images on flickr and there are a few more than shown below.

I’d awoke early and was up and about much earlier than the rest of my family, so I had already headed out (from our digs at The Navigation Inn) for an 20130808-01_Navigation Inn - Buxworth by gary.haddenearly morning wander around the historic site of Bugsworth Canal Basin. I’m writing another diary post for that part of the day …. (to follow) ….  so enough said about that here.

Anyway, after breakfasting we headed off to the other side of the Peak District National Park, to Chatsworth House and Gardens. I’m not going to say much about this extremely well known and loved tourist destination, suffice to say, it’s well worth a trip out. I’ve visited here numerous times over the years, and I’m sure it won’t be my last.

20130807-79_In Chatsworth's Rockery Garden by gary.hadden    20130807-73_Redwood Tree in Chatsworth's Rockery Garden by gary.hadden

20130807-45-B+W_Fountains at top of the staircase waterfall - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

20130807-44_The staircase waterfall - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

My fave bits ? :-

  • The “rockery” in its magnificently over-the-top huge scale.
  • The spouting tree fountain.
  • The “violin” hanging on a “door” in the house.
  • The staircase waterfall.
  • Edensor Village out in the deer park (pronounced Endzer by the way)
  • And just the huge scale of the grounds/gardens – Formal, informal, pinetum woods, huge gravity fed fountain, classic maze, and if you’re feeling fit enough, miles of pathways heading up into the wooded hills above the house and expansive views across the estate.

20130807-84_Traditional Sculpture - Chatsworth by gary.hadden               20130807-100_Chatsworth House - tall fountain + long pool by gary.hadden

20130807-112_The famous Violin hanging on a door - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

20130807-117_Inside Chatsworth House by gary.hadden

As a bit of added interest, there was also an exhibition of art sculptures dotted around the grounds:

  • Some I quite liked (Revelation + Tongue-In-Cheek)

20130807-38_Revelation Artwork - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

20130807-82_Tongue In Cheek - Art Sculpture (2010) by Tony Cragg by gary.hadden     20130807-83_Tongue In Cheek - Art Sculpture (2010) by Tony Cragg by gary.hadden

  • Some I was really ambivalent about.

20130807-122_The Pavilion artwork - Chatsworth by gary.hadden     20130807-129_Polishing the Lens Scuplture artwork - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

  • The turbine was interesting, but I don’t know if was an art exhibit at-all.

20130807-29_Turbine - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

20130807-31_Turbine - Chatsworth by gary.hadden     20130807-32_Turbine - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

  • And some I plainly disliked (La Machine A Rever in particular) – thinking maybe a toddler could have done better.

20130807-89_Odd Art Sculpture - La Machine A Rever (1970) by Niki de Saint-Phalle by gary.hadden

But I guess that’s the idea of an art exhibition, it’s supposed to raise questions and views – but some modern art just really doesn’t do anything for me! … and … I don’t think many really enhanced the beauty of the landscapes all around us, albeit manicured into a “fake” landscape per Mr. “Capability” Brown.

20130807-86_Book Bench with Ball and Chain - Art Sculpture - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

20130807-99_Queen Elizabeth II + Prince Charles (bronze busts) - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

20130807-47_Chatsworth House + Ivy Art Sculpture from the staircase waterfall by gary.hadden

Anyway, that’s enough of that, I hope you enjoy my pic’s, and hope it’s given food for thought if you’re looking for a day out with a bit of culture.